Jurgen Klopp’s high-flying Liverpool advanced to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with a 2-1 triumph over Norwich City on Wednesday night, while David Moyes’ men crashed out of the competition after a 3-1 defeat to Southampton.
Over 120 minutes of action at Wembley certainly took its toll on Liverpool – but their endeavours ended in a record-breaking ninth EFL Cup title – and hopes of an unprecedented quadruple remain alive after a second-string XI saw off Norwich in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Takumi Minamino struck twice before the break to put Liverpool in cruise control, and while the Canaries hit back through Lukas Rupp’s thunderbolt with 14 minutes left to play. Klopp has strongly played down hopes of a quadruple as “crazy” but the Reds are only six points behind leaders Manchester City with a game in hand, and Guardiola’s side must navigate a Manchester derby on Sunday to pull clear.
Victory over Norwich marked Liverpool’s 11th win on the bounce in all competitions – with six of those successes coming in the Premier League – and not since October have the EFL Cup winners dropped points in a Premier League home fixture.
While the Hammers lined up with a full-strength XI, Southampton shuffled their pack considerably for their FA Cup meeting in midweek and pulled out all the stops to make it through to the quarter-finals. Romain Perraud, James Ward-Prowse and Armando Broja sent the Saints through in a 3-1 success, while Michail Antonio bagged a consolation, his first goal since the new year. How West Ham and David Moyes will need their number nine in top form if they are to make a strong claim for an unprecedented top four place.
Still fighting for success on two fronts ahead of their Europa League last-16 battle with Sevilla, West Ham did at least boost their top-four chances with last week’s 1-0 success over Wolverhampton Wanderers and lie fifth in the table – two points adrift of Man United – ahead of the weekend.
A surprise draw or victory at Anfield would see the Hammers move back into the final Champions League spot before Man United and Arsenal return to action on Sunday, but Moyes’s side have won just two of their last eight away from home in the Premier League as they seek to make lightning strike twice against the Reds. West Ham came out on the correct end of a 3-2 scoreline when Liverpool paid a visit to the London Stadium back in November in the reverse fixture, but the Reds have won each of the last four meetings between the sides at Anfield – scoring at least two goals each time.
WHEN AND WHERE?
Date: Saturday, 5th March 2022.
Time: 5:30 pm (UK).
Venue: Anfield Stadium.
Referee: Jonathan Moss.
Assistant Referee: Marc Perry, Timothy Wood.
Fourth Official: Kevin Friend.
VAR: Darren England, Sian Massey-Ellis.
Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino remains out of action due to his muscular problem, but Thiago Alcantara may be ready to return from his hamstring injury against Inter Milan in the Champions League next week.
Curtis Jones is also a slight doubt for this weekend after feeling a twinge in his thigh during the FA Cup victory over Norwich, but Klopp will be making considerable changes after giving the majority of his EFL Cup-winning XI rests in midweek. Jordan Henderson was able to complete 60 minutes on Wednesday after starting at Wembley and may be in the XI again with Naby Keita still attempting to return to full fitness, while Joel Matip is out due to illness.
Meanwhile, West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek required stitches after an elbow from Ibrahim Diallo in Wednesday’s loss to Southampton, but the Czech international could still be in contention to start at Anfield for David Moyes. Vladimir Coufal, Ryan Fredericks, Arthur Masuaku and Angelo Ogbonna make up four defensive absentees for West Ham, while Ukraine international Andriy Yarmelenko is away on leave due to Russia’s invasion of his nation.
Aaron Cresswell should be fit to return over Issa Diop, and Said Benrahma will be pushing for a start also despite making little impact when coming on as a second-half substitute against Southampton in midweek.
Liverpool will be looking to carry on their stunning form this weekend when they welcome West Ham to Anfield. Despite holding a could record against them at home, this will still represent a tricky fixture for Jurgen Klopp and his men to navigate. What they’ll need to be wary of is West Ham’s prowess on the counter-attack and from set-pieces, a couple of aspects that Liverpool are currently strongest at themselves. With Ibrahim Konate set to line up alongside Virgil Van Dijk at centre-back, they should be able to counter the threat West Ham pose from free-kicks and corners, however, in the reverse fixture, Liverpool did fall victim to West Ham’s tricks and really cannot afford to allow that to happen once again, with a three-point gap from title rivals and leaders Manchester City up for grabs.
Jurgen Klopp will have a decision to make upfront, does he start Diogo Jota again after his recent injury or does he stick with the trio of Luis Diaz, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah that started last weekend’s EFL Cup triumph against Chelsea. New January signing Diaz has enjoyed a tremendous start to his Anfield career, despite just scoring the once – against Cardiff City in the FA Cup – though, the Kop have taken a huge liking to his already with his speed, trickery, courage and work-rate already evident in his performances so far. Klopp may feel justified in sticking with that trio, who could cause real issues to West Ham’s backline.
David Moyes attempted a different setup against Southampton on Wednesday, playing with a 3-man defence with Ben Johnson and Pablo Fornals as wing-backs, a system which ultimately did not work. Moyes may be tempted to go for the 3-4-1-2 again, with Cresswell back fit to provide the Hammers more balance, organisation and defensive solidity, as well as lining up Jarrod Bowen alongside Michail Antonio up-front to provide the Jamaican international with much needed help upfront. Antonio is yet to register a Premier League goal since their 3-2 triumph over Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day, while Jarrod Bowen has maintained his rich vein of form all season, bagging seven goals since the turn of the year. A player Klopp has regularly stated his admiration for, and a player who Liverpool must watch out for during the game on Saturday.
With a staggering 19 Premier League goals so far this campaign, many Fantasy Premier League managers will be hoping Liverpool’s Egyptian superstar is on the scoresheet again this weekend as he aims to aid his team in trumping Manchester City for the Premier League crown. Salah will certainly be key to Klopp’s chances once again, as he always is. Though, if West Ham manages to cage Salah’s influence, they still have the minor issues of Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane alongside him to contend with.
Arguably West Ham’s most consistent performer so far this season, alongside Declan Rice. But, West Ham have had to rely on Bowen’s goals since the turn of the year – seven – because of Michail Antonio’s loss of form. Jarrod Bowen may well be in line for a first England call up this month from Gareth Southgate and the 25-year-old has richly deserved the praises coming his way, putting in some excellent performances, most notably in his efforts in the final third. The former Hull City winger, has registered 16 goal involvements (8 goals, 8 assists) in 26 Premier League starts so far this campaign, and if West Ham are to spring a surprise come Saturday night at Anfield, Jarrod Bowen will certainly have been at the centre of it all.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Elliott, Fabinho, Henderson; Salah, Mane, Diaz.
West Ham (3-4-1-2): Fabianski; Johnson, Dawson, Zouma, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Lanzini; Antonio, Bowen.